Big, messy free science
poly•mer: (\pä-l -m r\), noun, a chemical compound or mixture of compounds formed by polymerization and consisting essentially of repeating structural units (from Merriam-Webster)
Yes, I completely understand it now. Don’t you?
I was fortunate through school to take part in advanced level classes, where teachers could spend more time doing hands-on activities, instead of just trying to teach from the book.
With increasing class sizes, mounds of paperwork, more testing, and less funds, I worry that today’s students are more likely to be taught from a definition like the one above than from activities like edible DNA or making sauerkraut in chemistry class.
Science educator Steve Spangler takes it even one step further: BIG science.
Spangler may be best known for his Mentos and diet cola geyser experiment made famous on the website YouTube, but it’s not the only science trick in his bag.
It was only fitting that 4-H ask Spangler to create the experiment for our very first 4-H National Youth Science Day nextWednesday.
Newton County children and youth will be part of a nationwide hydrogel polymer experiment onWednesday, October 8 on the Covington Square.
The event is free, and everyone in the community is invited to put on play clothes and drop in throughout the afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Newton 4-H’ers will lead an experiment using a common, everyday hydrogel polymer.
Think it’s the fibers in diapers and other absorbent products that hold in all that liquid?
Think again, and join 4-H as we discover how these same super-absorbent polymers can also be used to keep trees and plants alive with up to 80% less water.
In true Steve Spangler style, we could not turn youth into scientists without something even bigger.
Thanks to sponsorship by Georgia Perimeter College’s Newton County campus, 4-H’ers will also be challenging youth to cross a pit of “quicksand” (another polymer experiment) and make square bubbles.
Professors and students from Georgia Perimeter will also lead young scientists to examine leaves and feathers under microscopes, explore the skeleton, and make funny putty in another polymer experiment.
As a child, I thought a scientist was someone who looked like Beaker or Dr. Benson Honeydew on the Muppets, and all they did was work with chemicals in test tubes.
At “Science on the Square,” youth will see that while we have as much fun as Beaker, science is not just one field.
Keep Newton/Covington Beautiful will continue the water theme from the main experiment with edible aquifers.
Children will get a sweet treat while learning how non-point source pollution affects our ground water.
Jim Honeycutt of Oxford College will lead physics and astronomy exploration with youth.
Honeycutt is a well-known local educator, who over the decades has educated many Newton County students by engaging them with 6-foot slide rules, wind tunnels, handmade kites, or by pushing against a fixed object and saying, “Self, this wall isn’t going to move.”
TheCharlie ElliottWildlife Center is also bringing environmental education to the square, using snakes to talk about animal classification.
Ofcourse, no Spangler-style science day would be complete without an 18-foot geyser of cola, so 4-H’ers will add height to this celebration of National 4-H week with the help of a few Mentos candies.
It is perhaps fitting that this all takes place on the Covington Square, by the sign commemorating local educator and innovator G.C. Adams.
As superintendant of schools, Adams aspired to not only bring education to all students in Newton County, but also to inspire students to want to learn with practical, hands-on contests such as the Boys’ Corn Club in 1904.
More than 100 years later, 4-H’ers and students across our county will meet across from the historic courthouse, site of that first 4-H event, to explore science in a newway.
As part of the 4-H: SET (Science, Engineering and Technology) initiative, 4-H National Youth Science Day is meant to inspire youth across the nation to study these fields and lead our world tomorrow with new discoveries.
Join us onWednesday from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. on the Square as we help make “One Million New Scientists. One Million New Ideas.”
Terri Kimble is the 4-H Program Specialist for Newton County 4-H. She can be reached at 770-784-2010 or tkimble@uga.
Great cob: County Commission Chairman Aaron Varner signs a proclamation declaring Oct. 5-12 as National 4-H Week in Newton County and encouraging local children and youth to celebrate 4-H National Youth Science Day on October 8 on the Covington Square from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. 4-H Senior County Council Chair Ken Galloway and 4-H Junior County Council Chair Mary Lathem explain to Varner, also a 4-H alum, how 4-H has grown from the Covington Boys’ Corn Club in 1904 to the world’s largest youth organization today.